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4 Ways to Own Your Mornings

April 01, 2016

The alarm goes off: you reach for your Instagram, scroll through your inbox, and as soon as your feet hit the floor, you’re already in battle mode for the busy day ahead. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, but if you have a tendency to hit the ground running in the morning, it might be time to slow things down. Taking a few minutes to check in with yourself will set you up for greater productivity throughout the day.

Carving out “you time” in the morning is doable if you start the process the night before: Lay out your outfit, prep a healthy breakfast, and make a to-do list of tomorrow’s tasks in order of priority.

If you get organized the night before, you’ll have a few extra minutes in the morning to try these four simple techniques for clearing your mind and setting yourself up for a productive day.


Coffee first, Dietrich jacket and Nakamura trousers second.

1. Write “morning pages.”

In her best-selling creativity manifesto, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron suggests starting the day by writing three journal pages immediately upon waking. The idea is to get your creative juices flowing by jotting down whatever comes to mind, without judging or editing yourself.

On the days when I wake up twenty minutes earlier to do this, I find that I generate better ideas throughout the day, because I’ve dumped all my anxieties onto the blank page. The more frequently you do it, the easier it becomes, and the more impact it will have on your overall routine.

2. Do a mini meditation.

You only need five minutes to feel the positive effects of a daily meditation practice. By sitting and focusing on your breath without distractions, studies have shown that you’ll literally change your brain structure to strengthen the areas responsible for processing emotions, expressing empathy, and increasing self reliance. If you’re a meditation newbie, try an app like Headspace and follow the simple guided sessions.

3. Move more.

Even if you don’t have time to hit the gym before work, you can sneak exercise into your morning routine by biking to work, doing a quick at-home routine, or turning morning chores into a chance to stretch.

I spend 45 minutes in the park every morning with my dog. In addition to walking, I’ll stop to do a series of stretches while he greets his furry friends. I’ve reframed how I view these walks by focusing on my breathing—what was once a chore is now a moving meditation. Stopping to stretch helps me connect to my body as I set intentions for the day ahead.

4. Eat a frog.

Mark Twain once gave this piece of advice: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In other words, tackle your biggest tasks early in the day, when your willpower is strongest. Before getting distracted by emails or swept up in meetings, work on the one thing that’s most important for you to accomplish.

Just think how motivated you’ll feel the rest of the day if your most daunting task is already done. By writing, meditating, or moving before you get to your desk, you’ll have no problem eating that daily frog.

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Lindsay is a Brooklyn-based writer and author of the memoir Missing. When she's not writing, she's most likely playing soccer or walking her dog, who looks like a fox. Read more of Lindsay's posts.

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